Debits and Credits

The Birthright

Rudyard Kipling

THE miracle of our land’s speech—so known
And long received, none marvel when ’tis shown!

We have such wealth as Rome at her most pride
Had not or (having) scattered not so wide;
Nor with such arrant prodigality
Beneath her any pagan’s foot let lie . . .
Lo! Diamond that cost some half their days
To find and t’other half to bring to blaze
Rubies of every heat, wherethrough we scan
The fiercer and more fiery heart of man
Emerald that with the uplifted billow vies,
And Sapphires evening remembered skies
Pearl perfect, as immortal tears must show,
Bred, in deep waters, of a piercing woe;
And tender Turkis, so with charms y-writ,
Of woven gold, Time dares not bite on it.
Thereafter, in all manners worked and set,
Jade, coral, amber, crystal, ivories, jet,—
Showing no more than various fancies, yet
Each a Life’s token or Love’s amulet . . . .
Which things, through timeless arrogance of use,
We neither guard nor garner, but abuse;
So that our scholars—nay, our children—fling
In sport or jest treasure to arm a King;
And the gross crowd, at feast or market, hold
Traffic perforce with dust of gems and gold!

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